'Openness' call on rights position

 

The Human Rights Commission has written to the Minister for Justice seeking an open advertisement for the position of its new president.

The first president, Mr Justice Donal Barrington, tendered his resignation a month ago for health reasons, but told the Minister he would stay on until a replacement was found.

At that time a spokesman for the Department told The Irish Times that a suitable replacement was being sought, and an appointment would be made as soon as possible. This could be before the elections, according to the spokesman at that time.

It is the Government's prerogative to appoint the president of the commission, but there is a growing demand for the process to be transparent, with the position being publicly advertised and competed for.

As well as the Human Rights Commission itself, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has written to the Minister asking him to consult widely and use an open procedure clearly free from political considerations. It is understood the Minister formally acknowledged the letter from the commission but has not given a detailed reply. A spokesman for the Department said the matter was under consideration.

The Irish Times has learned that the commission has offered the position of chief executive to an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ailbhe Connolly. She will take charge of recruiting other staff, and the commission office will then be open for individual complaints.